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First Choice Heating & Cooling Blog

This One Repair Is Common for ACs Over 5 Years Old

outdoor-ac-unitAir conditioning systems tend to need the most repairs during the last few years of their service lives. This increase in repairs is a warning an air conditioner is almost ready for a replacement. But there are some repairs that can occur when an air conditioner is still less than ten years old—and there’s one that can occur in an air conditioner that has only been in service for more than five years. In fact, it’s one of the more common AC malfunctions, and it’s a serious one.

What is it? Pinhole leaks in the refrigerant lines. And the repair to fix that is to have the lines sealed.

“Pinhole” doesn’t sound so bad …

It may not, but it only takes a small hole in a refrigerant line to allow refrigerant to escape, in particular when the refrigerant is at high-pressure. And any loss of refrigerant is big trouble with an air conditioner.

Refrigerant isn’t used up like a fuel; it is supposed to remain at the same level (charge) for the duration of the AC’s life. The air conditioner is designed to operate at a specific charge, and when it drops, it puts the entire system in jeopardy. Cooling capacity will drop, humidity will rise, ice will form along the evaporator coil, and eventually the compressor will overheat and burnout—which usually spells the end for the entire air conditioner.

The cause of pinhole leaks

Why would these leaks start in an air conditioner that’s been in operation for five years? It sounds like something that would only set in because of corrosion with age. Corrosion is responsible, but a specific type of affecting copper that can occur at any time. It’s called formicary corrosion, which is caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) inside a home. Unfortunately, homes have many VOCs in them, and they’re hard to eliminate because they come from ordinary cleaners, cosmetics, varnishes, and hobby products. Formaldehyde is one of the commonest of the household VOCs.

Formicary corrosion creates small, weak patches along the copper of the refrigerant lines. This is enough to allow tiny pinhole leaks to open and allow refrigerant to escape.

How to tell you have pinhole leaks

This is tricky, because it’s difficult to see these leaks, and you don’t have easy access to all of the refrigerant lines in the air conditioner. However, you can sometimes hear the hissing of refrigerant escaping, or a bubbling noise for liquid refrigerant. You can also notice the effects of the refrigerant loss, starting with a rise in humidity in the house and drop in cooling. Ice along the evaporator coils is a major warning—call for AC repair in Howell, MI right away. The problem may not be pinhole leaks, but something is not right.

Sealing the leaks and recharging the refrigerant

Our experts can rapidly find where the leaks are, then seal them up. There’s another important step we have to take: recharging the refrigerant in the AC to its factory levels. This will restore your air conditioner back to prime working shape and keep it out of danger.

If your home had a voice … it would call First Choice! First Choice Heating & Cooling offers air conditioning and heating service to Fenton, Linden, Holly, and the surrounding areas.

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